Sierra Club statement on Sewer District caused flooding in Northside

The Sewer Backup Program, established by order of the federal Court, for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD)-caused sewage backups, covers not only sewage backups due to the lack of capacity in the MSD System, but also overland flooding caused by MSD projects or System and damage arising from backups that are the result of MSD’s negligent maintenance, destruction, operation or upkeep of the Sewer System.

Attached is 2019-06-25 Altman statement Major Projects Committee, of AltmanNewman LPA, concerning this program.

The MSD consent decree, and its exhibits, can be downloaded from MSD’s website.

Sierra Club statement on June 2019 damage caused by MSD projects in Northside.

We have heard that inaccurate information has been distributed in Northside about the MSD’s Sewer Backup Program (SBU) claims process and your rights under the federal Consent Decree.

The SBU program was established under a federal Sewer Consent Decree because of the City, County and MSD’s violations of the Clean Water Act.

Sierra Club, as a party in the case, showed the Court evidence of damages emanating from overflows of MSD sewers. The Judge ordered the creation of the program. It was originally called Water in Basement (WIB) in the Consent Decree and its exhibits but it has been renamed the SBU program.

If you have suffered damage from sewer backups and/or “flooding”, you should
1. Promptly report the damage to the MSD by calling 352-4900. Be sure a record is made of your call.
2. If cleanup work needs to be done, tell the MSD to send out cleanup experts right away.
3. If MSD cannot or will not respond in time and you feel you have no choice and do the cleanup yourself — despite health hazards — document what you did, take photos and document your costs.
4. Seek information about your rights to the claims process from the Ombudsman by calling 362-2801 or from a lawyer representing your interests. (The Ombudsman was appointed by the Court, at no cost to you, to help you with questions about the program and the appeals process, if your claim is denied by MSD.)
5. Only after you have full information about your rights under the Consent Decree and have sought assistance from the Ombudsman or a lawyer, fill out a claim form, but be sure to include the SBU claim form in addition to any other claim form you fill out.

The following testimony was presented to Cincinnati City Council last Tuesday June 26, 2019 by Sierra Club attorney Dave Altman, a lawyer with AltmanNewman Co. LPA, helps explain some of Sierra Club’s concerns.

The SBU program covers more than backups into basements!

The program also covers: damages arising from backups that are the result of MSD’s negligent maintenance, destruction, operation or upkeep of the Sewer System.

The court order that created the SBU program makes it clear that overland flooding caused by MSD projects is expressly covered by the program.

The MSD knows that the specific rulings of Judge Litkovitz, the magistrate judge who oversees the program, have found MSD liable for overland flooding caused by MSD projects.

The Northside basins, the central part of CSO 125, were built and maintained by the MSD and were the cause of the recent flooding in Northside.

The MSD has known of its specific negligence that caused the flooding since the night of June 15-16 2019.

It was a violation of the SBU program to delay immediately cleanups to the flooded people of Northside!

It is a violation of the SBU program to tell the people of Northside their claims may not be covered by that program.

It is deceptive for representatives of the MSD to tell people the future of their damage claims hinges on special decisions by the County commissioners, when the flood victims Northside have specific rights under the SBU program.

June 28, 2019

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